Recent books of interest

Here are noteworthy recent releases — and upcoming releases — for the theologically-inclined. It has been a while since my previous entry for “recent books of interest,” which has now become a semi-regular feature here. As usual, they are in no particular order.

Woodrow Wilson is reported to have said, “I would never read a book if it were possible for me to talk half an hour with the man who wrote it.” I’ll have to consider that.


Theo-Poetics - Anne Carpenter

Anne M. Carpenter, Theo-Poetics: Hans Urs von Balthasar and the Risk of Art and Being (University of Notre Dame Press) — due Oct. 15

Louis Bouyer, The Memoirs of Louis Bouyer: From Youth and Conversion to Vatican II, the Liturgical Reform, and After (Angelico Press) — also, read Francesca Murphy’s effusive praise for this book

Mary Frances McKenna, Innovation within Tradition: Joseph Ratzinger and Reading the Women of Scripture (Fortress Press)

Andrew Purves - Exploring Christology and Atonement

Andrew Purves, Exploring Christology and Atonement: Conversations with John McLeod Campbell, H. R. Mackintosh and T. F. Torrance (IVP Academic)

Stephen N. Williams, The Election of Grace: A Riddle without a Resolution? (Eerdmans)

Robert Sherman, Covenant, Community, and the Spirit: A Trinitarian Theology of Church (Baker Academic) — due Oct. 20

Ingolf Dalferth - Grammar of Christology

Ingolf U. Dalferth, Crucified and Resurrected: Restructuring the Grammar of Christology (Baker Academic) — due Nov. 3

Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works — Reader’s Edition Set (Fortress Press) – due Nov. 1

Jacques Ellul, Islam and Judeo-Christianity: A Critique of Their Commonality (Cascade Books)

Jennifer Newsome Martin - Balthasar and Russian Religious Thought

Jennifer Newsome Martin, Hans Urs von Balthasar and the Critical Appropriation of Russian Religious Thought (University of Notre Dame Press)

Servais Pinckaers, Passions & Virtue (Catholic University of America Press)

Cardinal Sarah - God or Nothing

Robert Cardinal Sarah, God or Nothing: A Conversation on Faith (Ignatius Press)

John M. G. Barclay, Paul and the Gift (Eerdmans)

Chris Tilling, Paul’s Divine Christology (Eerdmans)

Jensen, Steven - Knowing the Natural Law

Steven Jensen, Knowing the Natural Law: From Precepts and Inclinations to Deriving Oughts (Catholic University of America Press)

Thomas Joseph White, OP, The Incarnate Lord: A Thomistic Study in Christology (Catholic University of America Press)

Daria Spezzano, The Glory of God’s Grace: Deification According to St. Thomas Aquinas (Sapientia Press / Catholic University of America Press)

Stanley Hauerwas - The Work of Theology

Stanley Hauerwas, The Work of Theology (Eerdmans)

Simone Weil, Late Philosophical Writings (University of Notre Dame Press)

Maria Clara Bingemer, Simone Weil: Mystic of Passion and Compassion (Cascade Books)

Lydia Schumacher - Rationality as Virtue

Lydia Schumacher, Rationality As Virtue: Towards a Theological Philosophy (Ashgate) — due Sep 28

Adam Johnson, Atonement: A Guide for the Perplexed (T&T Clark)

Archie J. Spencer, The Analogy of Faith: The Quest for God’s Speakability (IVP Academic) — due Oct. 18

Michael Allen - Reformation Readings of Paul

Michael Allen and Jonathan Linebaugh, eds., Reformation Readings of Paul: Explorations in History and Exegesis (IVP Academic) — due Nov. 2

Janet Smith and Fr. Paul Check, Living the Truth in Love: Pastoral Approaches to Same Sex Attraction (Ignatius Press)

Scruton -- Fools, Frauds, and Firebrands

Roger Scruton, Fools, Frauds and Firebrands: Thinkers of the New Left (Bloomsbury) — due Dec. 8

Étienne Gilson,Theology and the Cartesian Doctrine of Freedom (St. Augustine’s Press) — due Nov. 10

Kyle Greenwood - Scripture and Cosmology

Kyle Greenwood, Scripture and Cosmology: Reading the Bible Between the Ancient World and Modern Science (IVP Academic) — due Oct. 3

Leah Libresco, Arriving at Amen (Ave Maria Press)



Lindi Ortega - Faded Gloryville

Lindi Ortega, Faded Gloryville

Whitney Rose, Heartbreaker of the Year

Kip Moore, Wild Ones

Alan Jackson, Angels and Alcohol

George Jones, Complete Starday & Merc​ury Singles, 1954-62due Oct. 16

Turnpike Troubadours, The Turnpike Troubadours



    • You’ll have to do a write-up on it. I recently acquired a couple used books by Ellul — one on money, the other on Marxism — so I can finally get a little acquainted with him.

      • He’s fantastic, though I sometimes lose some of the intensity because I’m removed from 20th century French/European politics and culture. As much as I’ve enjoyed his thought (and would love to talk with him), have you ever read William Stringfellow? He’s akin with Ellul, except from an American context. Also, Ivan Illich is another fascinating figure arguing in the same milieu.

        It’s a shame that the prophets the Lord has given our age are some of less noticed theological writers of our age.


        PS. Barth told everyone in his trip to America to listen to Stringfellow. Maybe Barth knew what he was talking about 🙂

      • No, I haven’t read Stringfellow, but I remember reading some interesting online discussion about him, some years back. Our seminary library has a used copy of ‘Instead of Death’ for free, so I should probably pick it up.

    • Sorry for the double post, but part of me is interested in that Roger Scruton book just so that my left-wing sensibilities (though with a morally conservative side) can be challenged. It’s kind of hard to find good conservative writers who don’t sound like strawmen.

    • Yeah, the Amazon price is incredible for what you’re getting. Even the list price is fantastic.

      As for Scruton, I am a huge fan of his philosophy of aesthetics, and I’ve benefited from his grasp of modern philosophy. I recently read his book, How To Be a Conservative, which is not his most exciting work, but it demonstrates his enormous sensitivity to the strengths of his opponents, whether discussing multiculturalism, capitalism, socialism, environmentalism, etc.

      • His ‘Modern Philosophy: An Introduction and Survey’ is brilliant. I’d also recommend his ‘Beauty: A Very Short Introduction’, as well as his book on architecture. His two recent books, The Face of God (a Gifford Lecture) and The Soul of the World are also quite good. He has a number of talks and lectures on YouTube as well – one of which is a brilliant documentary on beauty.

      • First, I would watch this documentary he did for the BBC:

        As for his books, ‘Beauty: A Very Short Introduction’ (2011) is a republication of his book, ‘Beauty’, for Oxford U.P. in 2009, which you can buy used in hardcover:

        ‘A Short History of Modern Philosophy: From Descartes to Wittgenstein’ is a helpful survey, organized chronologically and focused on the major figures. I don’t yet have his other volume, ‘Modern Philosophy: An Introduction and Survey’, which is organized by topic.

        His Gifford Lectures, ‘The Face of God’, is an intriguing bit of speculative theology, which connects with his aesthetics in interesting ways.

        Also, though I have only glanced through it, ‘Sexual Desire: A Philosophical Investigation’ is worth investigating.

      • Thanks for the recommendations. Those books all look pretty interesting. Would I be correct in assuming that How To Be a Conservative would be a good recommendation for a left-winger like me who wants to be challenged?

        It seems that Scruton is rather contrarian even among conservatives.

      • Yeah, Ivan, I would recommend How To Be a Conservative. He is indeed a contrarian, especially compared to popular right-wing discourse in America. But he is also firmly rooted in the Burke-Kirk tradition of conservatism — focused on inherited wisdom, aesthetics, community, and “the good of government,” to quote one of Scruton’s First Things articles from last year.

        In the book, the first chapter is an autobiographical account of his intellectual journey through the academy and as a public intellectual. That was one of the highlights of the book for me. I noticed that the paperback edition is due in December, but you could just buy the hardback used — as I did in new condition.

  1. Woodrow Wilson is reported to have said, “I would never read a book if it were possible for me to talk half an hour with the man who wrote it.” I’ll have to consider that.
    For nonfiction? Maybe, sometimes. For fiction, no. Plus would Hemingway (for example) really be much fun to hang out with?

    • Yeah, I wouldn’t take the WW quote too strictly! And you’re right, it wouldn’t apply to fiction. I know at least one big Hemingway fan, but I read ‘The Old Man and the Sea’ in high school and never touched him again. I distinctly remember how much I hated it. I also hated Kerouac in college, so I am apparently not attuned to the lost generation or the beatniks.

      • I’ve wondered that sort of thing when you have that ice-breaker question of sitting down with any historical figure and talk with them. Some off the top of my head:

        Yoder was incredibly socially awkward.
        Luther would probably be rude and unpleasant.
        Calvin would be irritable (hemroids you know) and probably brooding.
        Thomas would be writing a book while you’re talking to him.

        Sometimes the distance a book provides is a medium where people’s ideas are tolerable. But then again, maybe when connected to a person, that’s how ideas really take on their significance and weight. It’s hard to believe someone who tells you to be happy who scowls and brood all the time.

        But this is a philosophical can of worms!

      • At least Barth was pleasant and told us to be happy all the time (evil is nothingness, you know). Strange character traits are basically necessary, to some extent, with anyone who thinks and writes as much as these guys. And awkwardness is a boon for critical thinking — after all, you have to justify your own oddity among prevailing social expectations! That can be a bad thing, of course, when it results in obscurantist and self-indulgent thinking. Every scholar needs to stay grounded somehow. For the theologian, the local church is a good place to start.

      • Old Man and the Sea isn’t Hemingway’s most representative book, partly because it’s actually upbeat and life-affirming by his standards! So The Sun Also Rises or For Whom the Bell Tolls might fill you with rage. 😉

  2. Kevin, thanks once again for a list of books that encourage exploration. I’m especially interested at the moment in Andrew Purves’ book and Stephen Williams’. Hopefully I can find time to pursue them, starting with Purves’ book. Thanks again!

    • I skimmed through Purves’ book, and it looks like a solid overview/guide to T. F. Torrance and his immediate Scottish predecessors. He’s not trying to break new ground in TFT scholarship, as far as I can tell; rather, he simply wants to commend this doctrinal heritage to others.

      Stephen Williams is a brilliant guy — a very careful scholar, generous evangelical.

      • William’s book reminds me of another called ‘Sovereignty of God’ (can’t remember the name). It was not a bad book and gave a better foundation of election. But it claimed to retool traditional calvinism with some Barthian twists and Ridderbosian redemptive-history turns. But at the end, I really behind the reemphasizing, I didn’t seem to end up anywhere else. In fact that book turned Roger Olson into an Arminian.

        From the outset it looks similar. Not that you can’t learn a lot, but I always go into these book expecting a paradigm shift, but I’m always dissatisfied.

      • Yeah, I agree about Williams’ book. I listened to the Kantzer Lectures, which became this book, and that was my impression. No paradigm shift for sure but great insights — similar to Berkouwer’s book on election. I do not remember any specifics from Williams’ lectures, so I need to listen to them again.

        Speaking of Stephen Williams, I very much appreciated his recent review essay in Themelios:

  3. I hope this question is not unpardonably broad or off-topic, but do you have any recommendations for theology books that deal directly with the Passion relative to Trinitarian relations (or vice versa)? I sat down to write an essay inspired by an imaginative pseudepigraphical image regarding the Trinity’s presence at the Cross and realized I need to do some background reading.

    • That’s an interesting and important topic, though it is not my area of specialty. I know that most of the discussion has been initiated by Balthasar’s Mysterium Paschale and Moltmann’s The Crucified God.

      • Thanks. I’m aware of both those books (and really want to read Balthasar’s when I can get my hands on it); I was hoping for something more contemporary as well, that might include a decent overview of the major streams of thought on the issue. Searching the internet for titles really just came up with Moltmann.

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